PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 14:1-31; God Alone Saves

03/13 Exodus 14:1-31 God Alone Saves


God’s purpose in the exodus is that he be known. God shows up to make himself known. He sets out to get glory for himself. God says ‘I will be known. I will be feared. I will be admired. I will act in such a way as to inspire awe and holy respect. I will get fame and honor and renown. I will not be slighted. I will be treated as weighty. I will be seen for who I am. I will get glory’.This is God’s purpose in the world.

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Even when God’s leading does not seem to make sense, we can be confident that he is at work for his glory and for our good. Even when he leads us into a corner with no way out and then incites our enemy to rise up against us, we must trust that his ways are perfect. He is acting for our good and for his glory.

In this passage, we will see the primary way God gets glory for himself. Our God is a God who saves. Here we are given such a clear picture of God our Savior – he alone saves his people.

14:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi–hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal–zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. 5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi–hahiroth, in front of Baal–zephon.

Tracing Israel’s Faith

Last time we looked at the progression of Pharaoh and the Egyptians as they were brought to recognize YHWH (or Jehovah – the LORD), God of the Hebrews. God said ‘the Egyptians shall know that I am YHWH’, and Pharaoh said ‘who is YHWH that I should obey his voice. I do not know YHWH’. After only the second plague, Pharaoh was asking Moses to ‘plead with YHWH for me’. By chapter 14, the Egyptians were crying out ‘let us flee …YHWH fights for them against the Egyptians’. Let’s look at how the faith of God’s people progressed as he revealed himself to them.

In chapter 1, we are introduced to some Hebrew midwives who feared God. Because they feared God, they disobeyed the Pharaoh’s orders, and God dealt well with them. By the end of chapter 2, the people are groaning because of their slavery and crying out for help. The text doesn’t tell us that they addressed their cry for help to anyone, but we are told that ‘their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant … God saw the people of Israel – and God knew’. God revealed himself to Moses in the wilderness in chapter 3, and called him into relationship with himself, sent him to bring the people out of Egypt and into his service. Moses is reluctant but eventually surrenders and goes and tells the people everything that God had told him.

Exodus 4:31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.

But after Pharaoh rejects the initial demand of the LORD to release his slaves, and instead increases their workload to the impossible, the people run to Pharaoh and cry out to him for help. When Pharaoh refuses to listen to their plea, they curse Moses in the name of the LORD for stirring things up (5:21). In chapter 6, God gives Moses the good news of his promises to preach to his people, but, it says ‘they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery’ (6:9). From this point on, God steps in and acts on behalf of his people. He unleashes his mighty acts of judgment against Egypt, and he makes a distinction between Egypt and his people, exempting his people from the full force of the blows. He claims to do it:

Exodus 10:2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

God is working so that his people will know who he is. Not only is he working so that the Egyptians know that he is YHWH, but even his own people need to be taught his nature and character. God gives his people favor with the Egyptians so they are given whatever they need for preparation for their journey. God gave his people instructions for a feast that was to shelter them from his wrath and point them to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The people here respond by bowing their heads in worship and obeying what the LORD had commanded (12:27-28). The Egyptians were brought to acknowledge YHWH and flee from him. The Hebrews worship and obey YHWH. Now they are following the visible manifestation of God as he leads them with cloud and with fire. Let’s see how they fare:

14:10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

Faithless People and their Faithful God

Notice how faithless God’s chosen people are. They set their eyes on their circumstances and they fear. To their credit, this time they cry out to the LORD instead of Pharaoh, but then they start complaining. They accuse him of leading them to the wilderness to die. They act as if their rescue from slavery was a horrible thing. They say ‘I told you so’ – we told you to leave us alone to serve our old slave-master. And they look back to the good old days slaving over bricks and mortar in Egypt. You took us away from all we had ever known. It would have been better for us to stay. Better to have our children killed. Better to be beaten. Better to be crushed under the oppressive slave-master. Better to be afflicted with heavy burdens, oppressed by the cruel taskmasters. Better to be ruthlessly made to work as slaves. The bitter life of hard service in Egypt was better than this. They have the pillar of fire and cloud right in front of them, and they say slavery in Egypt was better! They have no faith in God’s promises. All they can see is the bad part of what they can see, and that most certainly means death. They leave God out of the equation, focus on their circumstances, and are consumed with fear and speak against God’s deliverance.

Can you believe this? After God’s ten mighty acts of power over Egypt and all their gods, leaving the land and the people ruined and devastated, after God clearly established his supremacy over all things, humiliated Pharaoh and emasculated his gods, after he has demonstrated his compassion and care for his people, making a distinction, fighting on their behalf, after Pharaoh had consistently demonstrated that he was a cruel and pitiless slave-master, God’s people still want to return to Egypt? This makes no sense. They cannot see beyond their immediate circumstances, they cannot trust in the promises of their faithful God, they turn everything upside down and make God and his chosen deliverer out to be cruel and their slavery to a godless tyrant out to be paradise. This is incomprehensibly stupid! Can you believe it?

I can. I can, because this is what I do every day. This is where I live. This is the battle I fight. Will I trust God who has proven himself faithful and wise and awesome and loving? Will I believe that he has good in store for me? Or do I think that God is keeping some good thing away from me? Do I fondle in my heart the fleeting pleasures of sin that I know only bring me back into bondage and will never satisfy but instead create greater emptiness and craving? I have tasted the sweetness of intimacy with God. I have seen evidence of his relentless love. And my heart is still prone to wander. Prone to doubt. Prone to disbelieve. This is who we are. This is the battle we fight. What should we do? We cry out with the Apostle “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom.7:24).

But praise God he does not give us what we deserve. Praise God it does not depend on me! Praise God that salvation is by grace alone! Praise God that, as Paul says:

2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful–– for he cannot deny himself.

God would have been just to say ‘you liked Egypt so much? Back to Egypt you go!’ Praise God his faithfulness is not based on our fickleness but on his own reputation. God will remain true to himself.

Call to Stop Fearing and Stand Firm

14:13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

This is an amazing call to worship. First we are told to stop being afraid. In verse 10, when the Egyptian military was drawing near, it says the people feared greatly. They had an awesome respect for the skill and power and deadly force of the Egyptian army. By now, they should have had an even greater awesome fear and respect for their God, who decimated the Egyptians with blow after blow of his strong right hand. This massive horde of former slaves were no military match for the special forces of Egypt, but they should have seen that Pharaoh’s puny army was no match for the sovereign power of their Creator God. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (cf. Luke 12:5)

We are told to stand firm. Stand still. Stand your ground. Paul told the Galatian believers to stand firm in their blood-bought freedom.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

In the passage on spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6, we are told repeatedly to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. …13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore…

Peter warns against the adversary and tells us to resist, firm in faith.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober–minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 12 … I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

We are not to be afraid. We are to stand firm – not in our own strength, but strong in the Lord and the strength of his might, firm in the faith – the belief that he loves us and is fighting for us, that he himself will by grace restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us. Stand firm in the true grace of God – standing, not on our rights or what we have earned, but standing firmly on the word of a God who gives good gifts to sinners at great cost to himself.

Call to Be a Spectator

Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today.

Have you ever thought about your salvation this way? We are spectators in our salvation. We are utterly incapable of even helping God out in our salvation. God works alone in salvation. We watch. We are the ones being fought over. We do not do the fighting. We do not do the work. He will work for you today. The LORD will accomplish your salvation.

Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy,

God is the one who saves. Subject, verb, object. God is the subject of the sentence. We are the object of his salvation. We are the recipient. God performs the action. We are described as ‘dead in the trespasses and sins’ (Eph.2:1); ‘slaves of sin’ (Rom.6:17); ‘foolish, disobedient, led astray, salves to various passions and pleasures’ (Tit.3:3). We are told to stand still and watch, because if we start scurrying around trying to help God out, we will only raise a dust cloud that will obscure his glory. We can contribute nothing of worth to our salvation. We are even told to repent of our righteous deeds:

Isaiah 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment…

The author of Hebrews tells us that the elementary doctrine of Christ, the foundation that everything else stands on starts with repentance from dead works.

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God…

If you are attempting to play a part in your salvation, if you are trying to help God out, STOP! Stop stirring up dust! Stop creating more dead works that you will have to repent of! Salvation belongs to the LORD (Ps.3:8; Jonah 2:9; Rev.7:10; 19:1) Take your place as a spectator to God’s salvation. Stop and look. Watch. ‘See the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you’

14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Hear what God is saying to you. You are loved. You are wanted. You are being fought over. Do you know how good it is to have someone who will fight for you? In college, I was being accused of something I did not do. I was being threatened with legal action. I was scared. Then I was called in to the office of the president of the college. He looked me in the eye across his big desk and asked me if I had done what I was being accused of. He believed I was innocent. He said ‘Rodney, if you get any more harassing phone calls, you let me know. I will go to bat for you.’

13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Triumph Over their Enemies

They were looking at the situation all wrong. God had said he would harden the hearts of the Egyptians and cause them to pursue his people. God had promised to get glory over the Egyptians. If the Egyptian army had not shown up, if they were left alone in the desert, then the people should have wailed and cried out because God had not kept his word. Had the Egyptian army not come after them, they could be sure they would see them again. But because the Egyptians pursued them, as God had promised they would, they will never be seen again. God’s people will be free. Decisively free. Finally free. Free forever.

15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” 19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” 26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

The LORD saved Israel that day. They saw. They were spectators. They saw their enemies dead on the seashore. They saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians. They did not lift a finger against their enemies. The LORD saved them by himself!

Salvation by Grace Alone Resulting in Faith

Here we see the response of the people to the great salvation that the LORD accomplished for them. They saw, they feared, and they believed. This is a beautiful example of salvation by grace alone. Grace is God’s goodness given to undeserving sinners.

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God’s people were complaining against God, wishing for a return to slavery when God intervened on their behalf. They were totally undeserving. God saved them anyway. That is salvation by grace alone. God’s salvation by grace resulted in their faith. They responded to God’s grace with fear and belief. His people were beginning in the path of wisdom. They were beginning to fear the LORD. They were beginning to see how awesome he is and it rightly terrified them. And they saw that he is on their side, fighting for them, and they began to trust him. They began to believe. God’s gracious salvation resulted in faith. God fought for them when they were ready to defect. God won back the hearts of his people.

Romans 5:10 …while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…

Jesus is Salvation

13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

The Hebrew word translated salvation is [ hewvy] yeshuah. This is linked to the Greek name [Ihsouv ] Iesous given in the New Testament. It comes into the English as Jesus

Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

March 13, 2011 - Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , ,

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